Korea to launch international webtoon festival in September

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 2, 2024, 14:28 Updated : May 2, 2024, 14:33
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[Getty Images Bank]

SEOUL, May 02 (AJU PRESS) – The Korean government plans to launch an international webtoon festival in September to promote the globally popular digital comics that originated in the nation about two decades ago.

The inaugural Global Webtoon Festival will be held in Seongsu-dong, an emerging hipster hotspot in northeastern Seoul, from September 26 to 29, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Thursday.

The festival will institute new webtoon awards to recognize outstanding content from both at home and abroad. The ministry aims to cultivate the festival into the industry’s most prestigious international event, comparable to the Cannes Film Festival in the movie industry.

The festival will offer a more vibrant atmosphere than other webcomic events, featuring scores of pop-up stores dedicated to cartoon works and companies. Pop-up stores, or short-term event shops, represent one of the latest retail trends increasingly popular among young consumers.

Exhibitions on webtoon history, major genres, and artists’ themes will also take place, along with talk shows, autograph events and music concerts featuring original soundtracks, according to ministry and industry officials.

Seongsu, once an industrial area, now boasts hand-made artisan shops, pop-up stores, and trendy restaurants and cafes frequented by young consumers and global tourists.

The festival is expected to attract over 80,000 domestic and foreign visitors and generate sales of more than 1.8 billion won ($1.3 million) through pop-up stores alone.

The ministry and its affiliated Korea Creative Content Agency are in contact with major webtoon platforms to prepare for the festival and will form a seven-member advisory committee, according to officials.

Webtoons, digital comic strips optimized for smartphones and tablets, originated in Korea in the mid-2000s and gained international popularity, particularly with the success of webtoon-based dramas and films like Netflix's "Kingdom" and "Sweet Home."

With the global webtoon market estimated to have reached over $5 billion in 2023, the Korean webtoon industry has experienced significant growth, with total sales reaching 1.8 trillion won in 2022. Global market analyst firm QYResearch predicts exponential growth, with the market projected to reach $20.4 billion by 2030.
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